Friday, 20 January 2017

Healey calls for answers on RTB funding

John Healey has called on the government to publish full details of its plan to fund the Right to Buy extension through sales of council homes.

The shadow cabinet member for housing this week wrote a letter to communities secretary Greg Clark “demanding” the government publish regulations on the proposed high-value home levy on councils. He wants these regulations published while the Housing and Planning Bill is still being debated at committee stage in the House of Lords.

Mr Healey, in the letter dated 7 March, said: “Your failure to set out details fundamental to the policy impedes the duty of parliament to properly scrutinise legislation, denies the public the open debate they expect of their legislators and prevents those in the housing field from planning for the huge loss of affordable homes that will result.”

The government has proposed funding the extension of Right to Buy discounts to 1.3m housing association tenants through the sale of vacant ‘high-value’ council homes. The government is planning to charge a levy on councils based on an estimate of the number of high-value vacant homes they are expected to have.

The government has not yet set out exactly how this charge will be calculated and how it will operate. The Conservative Party did, however, publish an indicative table of suggested thresholds for the definition of “high-value” before last May’s election.

Mr Healey’s letter was also signed by Lord Jeremy Beecham and Lord Roy Kennedy, Labour’s housing spokespeople in the House of Lords.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We have always been clear that more details on the sale of high-value vacant housing will be set out in secondary legislation.”

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